Meet the Brits abroad, off in search of familiar landmarks: white cliffs, Le Mans and... fish and chips
First stop: the white cliffs of... Saint-Jouin-Bruneval.
No sign of an oiseau bleu, but here they are, just as impressively dramatic and imposing as those on the other side of the Channel. Stands to reason, when you think about it.
Let’s call this the trip of home comforts. White cliffs, followed by Le Mans, the latter a path trodden by some 100,000 British race-goers every year. Even some of the péages are set up for right-hookers. A southerly leapfrog that will put us at Circuit de Charade tomorrow evening.
“You know the bruises you get from karting?” says Andy Franklin, tenderly unwinding himself from the Exige at the base of the cliffs, “I’ve got the same rib pain right now.” “I’m just glad we’re in France,” retorts Owen Norris, “on that last stretch of the M20 down to the Eurotunnel, the surface was so rough I could feel the contact lenses vibrating on my eyes. I’m not sure I want
that much feedback.”
Monk-like in their approach to creature comforts, both the Lotus Exige Cup 430 and McLaren 600LT have self-flagellated the weight away. The McLaren has no aircon (saving 12.6kg) and ‘benefits’ from the Senna’s optional 8kg lightweight seats. The Lotus understands the concept of padding and cooling, but approaches it with a wariness borne of seven decades of kilo-shedding.
While my colleagues perform their daddancing stretch-and-lunge routines in a bid to stave off cramp, I surreptitiously congratulate myself on selecting the Aston Martin Vantage for the first 250 miles of this trip. I had plumply bolstered seats, vents capable of delivering an arctic gale, selectable tunes, some actual rear visibility that wasn’t just wires and the top of a supercharger, and Places To Put Things.
Now, plentiful stowage is hardly the platform on which Speed Week is constructed, but we do these drive downs for a reason. Each of these cars has numberplates, headlights and knows its way around the Euro VI emissions legislation. They are road cars. Even the hardest-cored trackaholic will be doing more road than track miles in their Exige. Same goes for the 488 Pista that Jack Rix is nosing through Maranello, and the 691bhp 911 GT2 RS Ollie Kew is sauntering over the Swiss Alps in. Road cars, one and all (yes, even the Dallara Stradale). And right now, they’re all doing road-car things. Doing them a bit faster in the case of Charlie Turner in the Bugatti Chiron, but that’s his speeding ticket.